Athletics - Why Aren't I Home
Record Label: Deep Elm
Release Date: Oct. 22, 2010
Athletics is an Asbury Park post-rock quintet.
How is it?
Scary good. Post-rock is a vast and deep genre that often brings together some of the best minds in music few people are talking about. Asbury Park's Athletics are a shining example of just how true that is. Album opener, "Why Aren't I Home?," begins with skittering guitar work, a hypnotic rhythm section and a visceral, all-consuming and undeniably arresting effort thats quite honestly as triumphant as any post-rock selection released this year. That being said, beginning the album with the strongest track is never the best of ideas, and in many ways, the rest of Why Aren't I Home? tries to match the transcendence of the title track.
While it's a valiant effort, only a couple tracks come anywhere close.
"See You On the Other Side" is snappy, jittery and hard-charging. There's fractious, antic moments throughout and a cornucopia of naunces that help make "See You On the Other Side," stand out. The vernal and quieter, "Fairview," is ruminative and meditative and opens like a prayer, with guitars that genuflect gracefully. "Jordan" abandons the post-rock formula and employs vocals in a composition that sounds eerily similar to something AP darling Jesse Lacey might have written. Halfway through the song collapses on top of itself and becomes a towering tormented slab of rock ferocity.
The muted and muffled "Speaking for Everyone" is distant and feels horribly like filler. Ambient, celestial and inviting it serves its purpose well, but ostensibly serves as a bridge between "Jordan," and sixth track "I Am Withdrawal" The latter features a glowing mist of guitars, bellowing vocals (yes, vocals) and thick heavy drums. Searing guitar work weaves and bobs spider-like towards the song's conclusion and a towering guitar solo in the latter half help make the song arguably one of the disc's best. "Lullaby" is frightening, alienating and downright possessed. Terrorizing vocals help make the song that much more surprising.
"August," serves as filler, while "It's Night It's Enough," is a placid, pretty and plaintive composition that bursts into a cavalcade of guitars, all-consuming drums and thumping bass. Anchored by a powerhouse finish, lush dynamics and some of the disc's best guitarwork, "It's Night, It's Enough," is the point at where the listener can't help but think "Fuck, this band can bring it." "Affliction" is a wintry piano composition that probably could have been left off and only serves as a respite and a calming segue for the titanic, agressive and full- throttle energy of "The Cost of Living."
When the proverbial needle finally stops the end result is a concussive, draining and visceral tour-de-force that's as inspired, emotional and impacting as any post- rock disc released this year. Score another one for Deep Elm.